During induction week this year I put together a lab activity based around Robocode (https://robocode.sourceforge.io/). The students were introduced to it on Wednesday afternoon and had lab slots during Thursday to further refine their creations.
Today we got to find out how they all did in an epic showdown.…
As well as my studies this semester, I’ve been to a HullDevs meetup to meet with a community of developers to Sensor City in Liverpool and a HullDevs event to meet local businesses.
Visiting Sensor City in Liverpool - March
After seeing that the University of Liverpool’s Sensor City (a building to encourage the growth of Smart Cities) was having an open day where local student’s could go and look round and hear from local businesses about opportunities in the region in the future I was really interested, and travelled over from Hull for the day in March (during the industrial action) to find out what the businesses inside were doing.
It was a really interesting day and there were some really cool companies talking, an example being FMI Industries who use big data analysis and compare to an analysis of the driver’s current to assess whether they’re likely to fall asleep at the wheel and what risk they are at, to let the driver make informed decisions as to whether they should take a break or if they’re safe to drive. We heard from a range of companies including medical technology, health condition management using Kinect, and LCR 4.0 (Liverpool City Region) as to what technologies are being made available to local businesses like laboratories for board printing to improve collaboration and encourage more startups.
The event was really insightful and it was great to meet some local businesses and find out about more up and coming technology.
HullDevs - April
After hearing that HullDevs was a great community of developers based in the area, I decided to go along to their April event to learn more about what happens there and what different developers are up to - it’s also really conveniently hosted in the University now.
It was a really interesting event, with two speakers covering two very different topics. The first talk, from John - the Director of Sauce based in C4DI (the home of software development in Hull) and was on “Why Elixir / Phoenix Should Be Your Default Choice For Any Modern Web Development Project”. It looks like a really good platform to build applications on because of both the incredible performance that it has and the way it scales so easily; it’s an really interesting technology and and it’ll be something I’ll be looking into learning more of over the summer. You can read more about Elixr and Phoenix here.
The second talk was from Shahid, a freelance consultant who was talking about building new applications for the cloud using Kubernetes - a platform similar to Docker, with a really cool feature being allowing completely rolling updates to allow zero-downtime upgrading and patching.
I’d definitely recommend that anyone at the University who wants to learn about some other technologies that aren’t taught on the course, but are used in industry goes along to HullDevs, as it’s really interesting and you can learn about technology straight from industry professionals themselves.
I have finally got the various bolts required to assemble the electronics in to the PixelBot chassis. So here she is.
I felt that I couldn’t just keep calling the PixelBot “the PixelBot”. So her new name is Smiler.…
In one of my previous posts on the value of blogging (http://goparker.com/post/2018-04-23-csblogs-and-blogging/) I remarked on how once a random internet stranger had left a comment that substantially improved the performance of the eGPU setup that I was blogging about. That was awesome, and I really think of it warmly.
It also occured to me as I wrote this that the way I had the blog currently setup, using static site generator Hugo (http://goparker.com/post/2018-05-08-github-pages-and-hugo/) I did not have the capability for people to leave comments.
This is where Staticman comes in.…
This semester I’ve studied three modules: Programming 2, Sustainable Computing and Software Engineering and Human Computer Interaction.
In Programming 2, I’ve worked on creating a local management application for a hair salon in C# which allows customers and stylists to register (and are validated before) joining the company, book chairs on available days and book appointments in available slots too. The system manages appointments to ensure conflicts can’t happen, adjusting available appointments slots based off the length of previous appointments. You can read more about this here.
In Sustainable Computing, we were tasked with creating something interactive to promote a topic that we were interested in, after surveying friends, family and other non-computer scientist students we decided to focus on Cybersecurity and good online practices. For this I worked with a teammate to collaborate on a a node.js project using Git, the project used the HaveIBeenPwned API and How Secure is My Password to help people assess their online security. We also served them a certificate to print after they completed their training. Want to know more about this on this project? Read here!
In Software Engineering and HCI, we learned about algorithmic efficiency and how do develop the most effective algorithm, and refine it over different iterations. We also worked on the human understanding of design to ensure that what we designed matched what the user actually wanted, and not what they’re told they want. We also covered design planning and how to effectively plan software development and the different models of development, building on the training that I did with QA on effective software design and testing in January.
Working in the SIS Team, I’ve been testing the Clearing and Fees, Funds and Finance strands of development. I’ve been working since January testing independently from home through JIRA, but lately I’ve been working in the office allowing me to get more familiar with the team. You can read more about this in a post I’ve wrote here.
So yesterday I talked about Kingdomino and what the maximum possible score is in two player 7 x 7 grid mode is (http://goparker.com/post/2018-05-14-ultimate-king-domino/). I showed a possible contender (267 points) and asked whether you could do better, throwing down the gauntlet. Well I picked the gauntlet back up again and did better myself.…
Just a few days before last Christmas I began belatedly thinking about what sort of things I could do with my family during the holiday period. A little while ago, one of my buddies had introduced me to Kingdomino (https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/204583/kingdomino) which is a fun tile placement game for up to 4 players. It was on ‘the list’ of games that I had put together after perusing a number of sources on the internet for games that play well with three players. This is because my immediate family unit is made up of me, my wife, and our (currently) 9 year old son.
I mentioned that I was belatedly thinking about it because I started after even Amazon’s Christmas delivery cut off. This might be an obstacle for your average fellow, but armed with my 3D printer I was not deterred.…
Over the last few weeks I’ve been invited to work in the SIS office on the Fees, Funds and Finance integration for the SITS suite at the University of Hull.
Before starting at the office, we met up for a Quiz Night with the team which was great, allowing me to put names to faces and meet different people before I came in. After previously working remotely with the team, this week it’s been great working with them more.
My work so far has focussed around Clearing and ensuring the system is ready to go live and includes all the Business Functionality for one of the University’s busiest admissions periods in late August. Clearing Enquiries as a system encompasses everything from managing calls and creating enquiries to following students through and converting enquirers to undergraduate students and managing them up until enrolment in September.
It has also included the Fees, Funds and Finance System which comes into service on the 31st July 2018 to manage all student incoming funds for tuition and accommodation payments from next year onwards. This is moving over from our legacy system, and will ensure our students get their bursaries, loan payments correctly and can make payments to the University efficiently.
Working through user stories - which are what end users would do with the system, an example being “as a Finance Administrator I would like to see all application deposit payments and sponsored applicants that are awaiting review, and be able to mark them as accepted once offline payment has been received or if a valid sponsor letter has been provided”, I need to go through the story and test if the functionality works and gives the outcome that is expected so it’s ready to use for the end user.
If the tests pass and I get the expected outcome, I can mark the project as ready to be deployed (introduced to the Live environment) and assign it back to the product owner (person who takes responsibility for that part of the development) who ensures it is sent out. If the tests however fail, I document what errors have happened, how to reproduce and the development team correct them and return the project to me to retest.
It’s been great with the responsibility I’ve got in this role and it feels like I’m making a real difference to students with the work I do as I know everything I test is used for my own academic progression and management and as a student I see the other side of what I’m testing and experience as an end user. I’ve enjoyed working with the team in the office and it’s been especially beneficial to be able to communicate with people and discuss the intricacies of the system by just popping to speak to a developer or product owner at their desk.
As someone who focusses mostly on time developing software, it has been invaluable seeing development from the user’s perspective and it has helped me to develop my own software more intuitively and think more about the user’s experience moving through.